Unsharp Gerrit Cole tosses seven shutout innings in ALCS Game 3

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Gerrit Cole didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday in Game 3 of the ALCS, but he still managed to fire seven shutout innings against the Yankees. The right-hander allowed four hits and five walks while striking out seven on 112 pitches.

Cole found himself in immediate trouble as the Yankees hit back-to-back singles to open the bottom of the first inning after falling behind 1-0. Cole, however, got two quick outs. After walking Gleyber Torres to load the bases, Didi Gregorius grounded out to end the frame.

Wasting opportunities would be a theme for the Yankees throughout the game, as Cole allowed two more base runners in the second inning and neither scored. Two two-out walks were spoiled in the fourth. A two-out double by Edwin Encarnación and a subsequent walk by Torres were wasted in the fifth. Cole put up 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh before hitting the showers.

In his previous two playoff starts, Cole allowed four hits and a walk with 15 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings (ALDS Game 2), and two hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts across eight innings (ALDS Game 5). He hadn’t walked more than two batters in a start since July 27 in St. Louis. Cole hadn’t recorded single-digit strikeouts in a start since striking out four against the Indians on August 1.

The Astros are up 4-0 in the eighth inning, looking poised to take a two games to one series lead over the Yankees.